Washington Post Makes Important Correction to Romney Hit Piece Without Notifying Readers

It is customary when a newspaper makes an after-publication correction or change to an article for it to notify readers that an alteration has taken place.

Some time after the Washington Post published a 5000-word hit piece on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney Thursday, a key edit was made to the article without such a notification.

The original piece mentioned the following:

"I always enjoyed his pranks," said Stu White, a popular friend of Romney's who went on to a career as a public school teacher and has long been bothered by the Lauber incident. "But I was not the brunt of any of his pranks."

The eagle eyes at Draw and Strike have a screen-cap of the original article verifying this.

CBSNews.com reprinted the original article at 12:59 PM Thursday. The paragraph in question still appears in its original form on page 2.

A crack in this part of the story emerged when White was interviewed by ABC News Thursday. At 2:02 PM, the following was published at ABCNews.com:

White, in an interview with ABC News, said that he is “still debating” whether he will help the campaign, remarking, “It’s been a long time since we’ve been pals.” While the Post reports White as having “long been bothered” by the haircutting incident,” he told ABC News he was not present for the prank, in which Romney is said to have forcefully cut a student’s long hair and was not aware of it until this year when he was contacted by the Washington Post.

So the Post initially wrote that White "has long been bothered by the Lauber incident." According to ABC News, White "was not aware of it until this year when he was contacted by the Washington Post."

As such, the Post made a change to its piece now visible at the website on page 3:

“I always enjoyed his pranks,” said Stu White, a popular friend of Romney’s who went on to a career as a public school teacher and said he has been “disturbed” by the Lauber incident since hearing about it several weeks ago, before being contacted by The Washington Post. “But I was not the brunt of any of his pranks.”

At press time, there is absolutely no acknowledgement of this alteration at the beginning or end of the Post's piece.


On top of this, the correction doesn't square with what White told ABC News.

"He has been 'disturbed' by the Lauber incident since hearing about it several weeks ago, before being contacted by The Washington Post," claims the edited Post piece.

But according to ABC News, "he was not present for the prank, in which Romney is said to have forcefully cut a student’s long hair and was not aware of it until this year when he was contacted by the Washington Post."

Who's right?

Seems the folks at the Post might have some additional explaining to do hopefully this time with an acknowledgement that changes have been made to its original piece.

It will also be interesting to see if other news outlets quick to jump on this story will also mention this correction as well as what ABCNews.com published late Thursday evening:

The older sister of Mitt Romney’s former high school classmate said she has no knowledge of any bullying incident involving her brother and the GOP presidential candidate. [...]

Christine Lauber, who is a few years older than John Lauber, was at college when the alleged incident happened, and said the brother and sister were “doing our own thing” at the time. [...]

Betsy Lauber, one of John Lauber’s three sisters, spoke with ABC News Tuesday night regarding the accuracy of the story.

“The family of John Lauber is releasing a statement saying the portrayal of John is factually incorrect and we are aggrieved that he would be used to further a political agenda. There will be no more comments from the family,” she said.

Seems to be a lot of holes in this hit piece.

Let's hope they get as much attention as the smear job did.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.